The first step of making injera is to get your ‘starter’ going. If you’ve ever made sourdough bread or pancakes, it’s the same basic idea. Once you have a ‘starter’, you just save a little of the batter at the end of making each batch of injera and use it again to get the next batch going properly.
There are lots of ways to get your initial starter going. Some people use fruit in cheesecloth. Others use chopped up potatoes to encourage the yeasty bacteria to grow in the flour and water mix. I went the easy route and just used yeast.
To start with, I used about 2 cups of lukewarm water and about 2 cups of white flour with a couple tablespoons of yeast. (From what I’ve read, the starter does best if you begin with wheat flour. Once your starter is well established, you can then add teff flour in gradually to convert it to a teff starter.)
Mix your flour, water, and yeast in a large clean bowl. You can use your clean hands or a wooden spoon. My daughter prefers to use her hands, since that makes it easier to find and break up any clumps of flour. Once it is well mixed, cover lightly, and leave out on the counter.
During the first 3 days, leave it alone. It will get bubbly, and then it will start to separate a little, leaving a layer of liquid on the top. The liquid may be dark colored/ No problem– it’s still good. On the third day, I started feeding my mixture. Every day I added about 1/2 a cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour, mixing well. You can feed it a couple times a day if you want to. But frankly, I am lucky to remember to do it once a day.
Once your starter has been sitting out for about 10 days, being fed every day for a week, you can use it to make injera. The starter will improve with age, so most likely your first batch or two of injera will not be very airy. But after 10 days or so of feeding every day, the quantity of starter that you have will be big enough that you will want to do something to diminish the quantity. So the 10 day mark is a good time to try out your starter. In the next couple posts, I’ll explain how to prepare the injera batter, and then how to cook it.